By Liz McEwan, Soapbox Cincinnati
When it comes to raising a family, education is a community matter.
Lifelong Walnut Hills resident (and mom) Sowonie Kollie agrees.
Her family has a long history with Frederick Douglass Elementary School. Her mother worked there when Sowonie was a child, her sister attended the school, and she even worked there for a time. Her daughter Kamari is now a student in sixth grade and Kollie says the school is truly a part of the neighborhood.
"When the kids go to Douglass, they're not just going to school, they're going in to a community," she says.
Kollie likes how the elementary school and other neighborhood institutions feel very cooperative, sharing events and educational opportunities for the kids. She mentions the library and the Bush Recreation Center as two places where neighborhood kids flow in and out throughout the week, making themselves at home after school hours.
Kollie will be honest, though, that Frederick Douglass School didn’t always feel like the right choice for her family. There were a few years when she pulled her daughter out and enrolled her in a different school. She says she didn't feel like the teachers were a great fit for her daughter.
But later, when her daughter entered fifth grade, they decided to try it again. And she says it's been an excellent experience. What she appreciates most is the muti-faceted support her daughter is given to help her succeed.
"From what I see," Kollie says, "there are a lot of opportunities for the kids to get mentorship. There are so many ways to advance, not just in the classroom."
She mentions an after-school program her daughter is involved in, where she receives academic mentoring and tutoring, plus has the opportunity to shadow older students at their high schools. Since her daughter will have to transition out of elementary school next year, she’s glad these opportunities exist.
Kollie wants what all parents want for their kids — "I want her to go as far as possible, as far as she can go with her education."
Kamari has big plans. She wants to be a scientist — a chemist, specifically. She wants to work for NASA.